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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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15 Squadron Crest
27/28.08.1942 No 15 Squadron Stirling BF327 LS-D P/O. Thornton

Operation: Kassel

Date: 27/28th August 1942 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 15 Squadron

Type: Stirling I

Serial: BF327

Code: LS-D

Base: RAF Bourn, Cambridgeshire

Location: Beusichem on the South Bank of the river Lek

Pilot: P/O. John Riley Thornton 112299 RAFVR Age 28. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. William Richard Hopkins 610971 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Nav: Sgt. Herbert Clegg 1495772 RAFVR Age 28. Killed

Air/Bmr: P/O. John Wheelhouse Frazer 118620 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Marcus Heppell Burtt 1119750 RAFVR Age 28. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Edward William Margetts 591580 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. Dennis Stanley Masur J/15164 RCAF Age 21. Killed


Taking off from RAF Bourn at 20:45 hrs to attack Kassel, a German City located on the river Fulda in Germany. 306 aircraft taking part. 21 Wellingtons, 5 Stirlings, 3 Lancasters, 1 Halifax, 1 Hampden.

Weather conditions were perfect for flying with a full moon and fine weather over Germany. That of course contributed to the 58 night fighter interceptions taking place, mainly on their return flight.

Widespread damage was caused to the city with 144 buildings destroyed, 317 seriously damaged. Casualties on the ground amounted to 43 killed, 187 civilians 64 Germans soldiers injured.

The Allied losses were huge. 33 aircraft were lost either during the operation or during landing on return. 153 aircrew were killed, for the lucky some that escaped the slaughter were taken PoW with 1 evading capture.

Stirling BF327 was intercepted and shot down by the night fighter ace Hptm. Erich Simon (1) of Stab III./NJG2 at 23:25 hrs - his 8th claim of the war. The Stirling crashed on the South Bank of the river Lek near Beusichem (see Kracker Luftwaffe Archive on this site)

The Squadron lost another crew during this operation:

Stirling I W7624 LS-E Flown by Fl/Sgt. Hugh Barton-Smith - missing with all of his 6 other crew. (In 2005 the remains of some of the crew were recovered by the Royal Dutch Airforce and laid to rest)

(1) Hptm. Erich Simon went missing on the 07/08th October 1943 after being shot down by the air gunners of a 149 Squadron Stirling EF410. His aircraft crashed into the Skagerrak some 15 km north of Tversted, Denmark.

Burial details:

Left: Initial Burial marker for Sgt. Hopkins, Plt.Off. Masur and Plt.Off. Thornton at Culemborg, Geldermalsen (Courtesy: John Jones)

P/O. John Riley Thornton. Amersfoort General Cemetery (Oud Leusden). Plot 13. Row 4.Grave 60. Born on the 10th December 1913 in Ackley in Iowa, USA. Son of James W. from Iowa and Annie M. Thornton from Nebraska, USA.

Sgt. William Richard Hopkins. Amersfoort General Cemetery (Oud Leusden). Plot 13. Row 4.Grave 58. Born on the 23rd October 1920. Son to Mr. E. Hopkins of Ferryside, Carmarthenshire, Wales.

Sgt. Herbert Clegg. Amersfoort General Cemetery (Oud Leusden). Plot 13. Row 4.Grave 57. Son of Fred and Isabella Clegg of Oldham, Lancashire, England and husband of Edna May Clegg. Grave inscription reads: “Here For A Season, Then Above, O Lamb Of God’.

P/O. John Wheelhouse Frazer. Amersfoort General Cemetery (Oud Leusden). Plot 13. Row 4.Grave 55. Son of William Henry and Ellen Mary Frazer of Cheltenham, Gloucester, England. Grave inscription reads: “And There Was Light”.

Sgt. Marcus Heppell Burtt. Amersfoort General Cemetery (Oud Leusden). Plot 13. Row 4.Grave 56. Born in December 1913. Son of Victor Stanley and May Florence Burtt of Sale, Cheshire, England. Grave inscription reads: “His Memory Ever New’.

Sgt. Edward William Margetts. Amersfoort General Cemetery (Oud Leusden). Plot 13. Row 4.Grave 54. Son of Edward George and Ethel May Margetts and brother of Cyril Margetts. Grave inscription reads: “The Lord gave, And the Lord hath taken away”.

P/O. Dennis Stanley Masur. Amersfoort General Cemetery (Oud Leusden). Plot 13. Row 4.Grave 59. Son of May Gertrude Masur of Johannesburg, South Africa. Sgt. Margetts is also remembered on a wooden plaque inside his local church of St. Clements, Worcestershire, England. Grave inscription (Jewish Emblem.) reads: “Dearly Beloved Only Son, Ever Remembered. Mom And Juanita”.

Researched for Aircrew Remembered by Linda Ibrom in June 2017 with thanks to Cyril Margetts (Brother of Sgt. Edward Margetts) Richard Van de Velde for grave photographs. Page originally placed with Matt Lacroix running the great Bomber crew website - now updated with further information and operation details. Thanks to Michael Treharne providing an update to NoK details and for the link to a Dutch site that provides additional information about this aircraft and crew. Thanks to John Jones for the image of the grave marker at Culemborg, Geldermalsen.

RS 12.07.2019 - Addition of grave marker at Culemborg, Geldermalsen

Pages of Outstanding Interest
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CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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